New Zealand dangles prod’n rebate

Gov't looking for way to extend 'Rings' fortune

AUCKLAND — New Zealand, which recently axed tax breaks to foreign filmmakers, is dangling a big cash-back carrot to lure production.

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton on Monday announced that filmmakers will get back one-eighth of the money they spend here.

Anderton had convened a task force to explore ways of maintaining the momentum generated by the “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and Tom Cruise actioner “The Last Samurai,” which wrapped a long shoot in April.

That task force repeated calls made by “Rings” master Peter Jackson and expat Kiwi Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”) urging the re-establishment of tax breaks. Adamson wants to come home to shoot a film based on the Narnia books by Brit writer C.S. Lewis.

Treasury officials oppose all industry subsidies, but the Anderton scheme offers 12.5% production expenditure grants to film and TV productions that spend more than $NZ50 million ($29 million) in New Zealand. Productions that spend between $8.75 million and $50 million also qualify if that figure is at least 70% of the budget.

Anderton described the scheme as an encouragement to attract and maintain the net economic benefits of hosting and producing major film and television projects in New Zealand.

The 12.5% matches an incentive offered by Australia, and the move is widely seen here as a response to anxiety that other countries were poised to become more attractive, particularly with the increasing strength of the Kiwi dollar.

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